Tag Archives: Word processing

Writing Tools: Zoho Writer

So the kids arrived, turned out to be pretty normal little boys, and we’re still settling in on some kind of routine, but all in all things are looking up for us in this foster care thing. More updates will no doubt follow.

But today that’s not what I want to talk to you about.

What I want to talk about is this: I’m always worried about my house burning down. Okay, maybe “always” is too extreme a word. Let’s just say it’s a frequently recurring fear of mine.

And when my mind flicks over to that image of my house devoured by flames, there is always one vital question that pops into my head. “What about my stories?”

Because it doesn’t matter how many backup hard drives you have if they’re all in the same house burning to the ground. Now I know there are programs like Carbonite that back up everything on your hard drive, and while I’m sure they are an invaluable resource, I’d imagine there are lots of you out there like me who simply can’t swing the cost.

If that’s the case, then I’d like to introduce you to a fantastic program I discovered a few months back called Zoho Writer. Zoho Writer is an online cloud-based word processor that accepts files in a variety of formats in sizes up to ten megabytes, a vast improvement on the ridiculously small upload restrictions imposed by Google Docs.

Now granted we’re not talking about a heavy-duty word processor here. This isn’t going to replace Microsoft Word or Open Office in terms of power, but if you’re just writing stories there’s no need for anything fancy. Give me a spell checker and a word count feature and I’m happy. Zoho Writer has both of them.

And while I started using Zoho simply to back up the work I didn’t want to lose it has become increasingly valuable to me of late, since I’ve started my collaborative project with fellow-writer, mom, and general producer of awesome Ellie Soderstrom. Zoho lets us edit the same document at the same time and see each other’s changes as they happen. If that ain’t awesome I don’t know what is.

I know I sound like I’m giving some kind of sales pitch here, but I really do feel strongly about this program.

Maybe it can help give you a little more piece of mind about the safety of your stories. Maybe you want to let other people edit your documents without worrying about sending attachments back and forth through email.

Maybe you’re sitting there thinking, “This is the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard.” That is totally fine with me. But it’s a great tool that I’ve gotten a lot of value out of and I wanted to share it with you guys. Give it a look and decide for yourself.

The Beauty of the Blank Page: Tips for Defeating Digital Diversions

I have a lot of respect for the writers of the past. It’s not so much their style that impresses me, because, let’s face it, people in the old days produced plenty of crap too. But when I think about the fact that for thousands of years writers had to actually physically write down their words onto paper it makes me a little awestruck.

Can you imagine the editing process? Or worse yet, the rewrites? Having to physically re-copy the entirety of a manuscript by hand? Can you imagine the day when “cut and paste” involved actual scissors and actual glue?

So yeah, computers are awesome. But like most awesome modern things they come with a price.

Because in a way, computers are too awesome. Not only do they come with wonderful word processing tools to help you make your writing the best it can be, but they also can connect to a million different diversions and distractions through the internet.

Maybe you’re stronger than me. Maybe when you sit down to write your words for the morning, it never occurs to you that Linkara should have posted a new comic review today, and it’s only like, thirty minutes long, so you’ve got time to bop over there and see what’s going on with that. Okay, so that one probably hasn’t happened to you, but you get the idea.

Distractions are the curse of the internet.

So what do you do? Well of course there’s always good old self-control. You can tell yourself to wait for that reward until you’ve finished writing. You can even switch off your computer’s internet connections for a while. But maybe you need a little extra layer of protection from all those temptations. Wouldn’t it be great if you could shut out all the rest of that stuff and focus on the page?

If that’s your dilemma then it’s time for you to meet my good friend Dark Room.  Dark Room is a fantastic little program that completely fills your screen with nothing but the empty page, waiting for you to fill it with your words. Of course it’s still possible to minimize it and get to other stuff on your computer if you need to, but I’ve found that often, with the visual distractions removed I’ve been able to focus more on the words I’m writing.

Dark Room is a fairly minimalist program. It has no spell check function. In a way it’s like installing a typewriter on your computer. What you type is what you see and nothing else.

The color scheme is adjustable so if neon green letters on a black screen aren’t your thing you can change it to something a little different. You can even change the font to Courier New to give it a real typewriter look.

Overall this has been a fantastic tool for me. I don’t use it all the time, but when I hear the siren song of digital distractions I open it up and indulge myself in the decadence of a truly blank page.

If any of you struggle with the endless distractions of the internet I highly recommend you try this little program. It’s free and simple to use. And it may just help you accomplish something wonderful.

The Dark Room program can be downloaded here.